February 2010
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Month February 2010

Blast from the past No. 4: Digital channels, the change in community structures and its consequences for social participation

This trip to the archives digs up the paper Digital channels, the change in community structures and its consequences for social participation. I presented this paper in Belfast at the ISEA 2009.

For a short glance at the argument have a look at the presentation. The full paper can be found here.

Andreas Jungherr (2009) ‘Digital channels, the change in community structures and its consequences for social participation’. Paper presented at the ISEA 2009: International Symposium for the Electronic Arts, University of Ulster, Belfast, UK on 23 August – 1 September 2009.

All the Running You Can Do

Recently I started reading Václav Havel’s memoirs To the Castle and Back which he wrote in 2005. In his State of the World 2010 Bruce Sterling mentioned Havel’s memoirs as a good illustration of the imp of the perverse:

People don’t need what they want, and don’t want what they need. My intuitions about this have been sharpened by reading Vaclav Havel’s new memoirs TO THE CASTLE AND BACK.

[...]

There’s a lot of stuff in there about people being surprised and even flummoxed by the spectacular glee of being given what they want — great things that are clearly good for them. They’re better off by almost every objective measure, and they’d never go back, but somehow they seem to live less.

inkwell.vue.373: Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #46 of 223: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 5 Jan 10 07:21

While this is definetely an element of Havel’s memoirs. Still, after reading the first pages Havel’s memoirs made me think of something else. I’m reminded of the Red Queen’s race out of Lewis Carrol’s Through the Looking-Glass:

“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else — if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”

“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”

Lewis Carroll: Through the Looking-Glass. 1872.

Havel writes his memoirs in the year 2005 looking back on his presidency. These short reflective vignettes are interspersed with excerpts from Havel’s memos to his staff which he wrote during his time in The Castle. These memos offer a detailed view on the minutiae of the day to day life of a president and his staff. What is especially poignant are the plethora of mundane details that fill these memos. As Havel puts it himself:

When I think of all those thousands of meetings I held as president, of how many worries and preparations were necessary for every one of them and how many things I had to answer – from the very basic ones concerning the future organization of the world to the most petty ones concerning, for instance, the placement of cutlery or the seating arrangements for some official dinner – it occurs to me that not only will no one ever be able to fully appreciate all that but that today, practically no one knows about it anymore.

How wonderful it is, by comparison, to be a writer! You write something in a couple of weeks, and it’s here for the ages. What will remain when presidents and ministers are gone? Some references to them in textbooks, most likely inaccurate.

Václav Havel: To the Castle and Back. Translated from the Czech by Paul Wilson. 2008. p. 35.

From this perspective Carrol’s Red Queen’s Race finds an uncanny likeness in political life. Good or Bad? Well, this judgement will have to wait.

Blast from the Past No. 2: Twittering Dissent

For a second trip to the back catalogue have a look at Twittering Dissent: Social Web Data Streams as Basis for Agent Based Models of Opinion Dynamics. A paper that Pascal Jürgens presented in Vienna, Austria in early 2009.

For the gist of the paper have a look at the presentation:

In this paper we build on the work we presented in Modeling Small-Group Interaction on Pervasive Digital Channels: New Influence on Public Opinion’. In contrast to the earlier work in this paper we focused on the potential agent-based modeling holds for the social sciences in general.

Pascal Jürgens and Andreas Jungherr (2009) ‘Twittering Dissent: Social Web Data Streams as Basis for Agent Based Models of Opinion Dynamics’, in: Martin Welker, Holger Geißler, Lars Kaczmirek, Olaf Wenzel (eds.), 11th General Online Research Conference, GOR 09: Proceedings, Vienna, p. 81.

Blast from the Past No. 1: Modeling Small-Group Interaction on Pervasive Digital Channels

The quiet days at the end of any semester are great for side projects. So for this semester I decided to go through my back catalogue of presentations and publications and make some of them available on this site. Today I’ll start with a poster from 2008 which Pascal Jürgens and I presented at the International Workshop on Challenges and Visions in the Social Sciences in Zurich, Switzerland.

Modeling Small Group Interaction on Pervasive Digital Channels

Modeling Small Group Interaction on Pervasive Digital Channels

In this poster we used the big Lacy/Zuckerberg dustup at the SXSW 2008 to gain some deeper understanding in the dynamics of communication via Twitter. To this end agent based modeling proved to be a very promising research tool.

The Lacy/Zuckerberg session gave a first glimpse on the negative effects of a communication backchannel running wild. Since then other incidents proved the relevance of more research into that phenomenon.

For a closer look at our poster check out the pdf on the publication page for Modeling Small-Group Interaction on Pervasive Digital Channels on this blog.